The Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday, ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to pay N10.6 million to veteran journalist, Geoffrey Anika, as damages against unlawfully blocking the highway.
The blockage was said to have caused a ghastly motor accident involving Anika in 2012.
Anika, is currently a traditional ruler in Atta Kingdom in Ikeduru Council Area of Imo.
The amount was awarded in favour of Anika, whose vehicle, a Peugeot 406 was damaged beyond repairs as a result of the unlawful blockage.
Justice Babatunde Quadri, while delivering judgment in the suit instituted against the NNPC by Anika, agreed with the plaintiff that the NNPC was negligent in blocking the highway without road signs as required by law.
Justice Quadri held that the claims of the plaintiff regarding the accident and the documents were not controverted by the NNPC or its witnesses.
He rejected the claim of the NNPC that the Federal Government through the National Security Adviser, was responsible for placing the concrete barriers without road signs.
The judge maintained that the NNPC failed to call witnesses to substantiate the above claim throughout the trial.
Justice Quadri further rejected another claim by the NNPC that recklessness and over speeding on the part of the plaintiff was responsible for the accident.
The judge held that the totality of evidence from the side of the police indicated that the accident was caused along with four others by the unlawful placement of concrete barriers on the road.
The judge therefore awarded N5.1 million in favour of the plaintiff, being the cost of the damaged vehicle.
He awarded another N5 million as special damages while N500,000 was granted as the cost of litigation.
It would be recalled that Anika dragged the NNPC to court for illegally blocking the highway in front of its headquarters in Abuja without road signs, which led to a ghastly accident in 2012.
Anika in the suit, prayed the court to compel the NNPC to pay him a sum of N50 million as damages for allegedly causing him the accident.
The former member of staff of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), asked the court to hold the NNPC responsible for the accident saying it was caused as a result negligence and disregard to highway protocols.
In his statement of claim, the broadcaster claimed that on April 1, 2012, he drove on the highway in front of the NNPC towers to his Radio House Office without any form of concrete barriers on the road.
He averred that while returning from work on the same day around 11pm, his Peugeot 406 car rammed into the concrete barriers allegedly placed on the road by the NNPC officials without road signs.
The plaintiff claimed that it took the intervention of some “good Samaritans” who rushed him to a general hospital while the car got damaged beyond repairs.
He further contended that all efforts to make NNPC compensate him on the incurred medical expenses and damage to his car were refused by the corporation.
Anika asked the court to declare that the sudden placement of the concrete barriers by the NNPC without relevant signs and warnings was wrongful.
He also asked the court to declare that the NNPC and Federal Government, which is a defendant in the suit, were liable for the accident; injury and damage caused him by wrongful placement of barriers.